Google announced the launch of a preview of a Google TV add-on for the Android SDK, which means that Google TV devices will be Android compatible, with an upcoming update to Android Honeycomb. That also means that developers can create Android apps designed for the television experience, or simply optimize existing Android apps for the bigger screen.
Google TV hasn’t had the huge impact on consumer purchasing habits that Google may have liked so far, but this announcement is reminder that it’s really only just getting started. From the start, Google has been talking about the possibilities of Google TV with regards to Android, and only now will we really start to see some of this stuff come to fruition.
“While the add-on does not contain all features of Google TV, it enables developers to emulate Google TV and build apps using standard Android SDK tools,” says Google TV Product Manager Ambarish Kenghe. “It also provides new APIs for TV interaction, such as TV channel line-up. Google TV emulation is currently supported on Linux with KVM only, and we are working on support for other operating systems. We’re very happy that through KVM we’ve been able to create a fast Android emulator for TV.”
“Depending on the design and use case, an existing Android app may work well on Google TV as is, or it may require fixes,” Kenghe adds. “With the add-on you can test your apps to determine if they would be a good fit for TV and whether any tweaks are required. We are also publishing UI guidelines to help you with topics like optimizing for d-pad navigation, presenting information for 10-foot viewing, designing apps that work well across devices, etc. The guidelines include information on how certain UI elements on Google TV differ from other Android devices.”
If apps require features that aren’t available with Google TV, they won’t be shown in the Android Market on Google TV, according to Google. That means Google TV users won’t have to worry about downloading a bunch of stuff that’s not going to work for them, and developers don’t have to worry about their apps showing up in unusable forms, tarnishing their reputations.
As Google TV-based devices don’t come with touch screens (at least not yet), developers are going to have to seriously consider that potential set-back, as many are obviously used to designing for the touch experience.
“While the number of apps available on TV will initially be small, we expect that through this early release of the add-on you’ll be able to bring optimized TV apps into the ecosystem more quickly,” Google tells developers.
Google’s pending acquisition of Motorola Mobility could turn out to be a huge strategic move for Google TV, as the company already provides set-top boxes. Rumor has it that Eric Schmidt is also trying to win over TV studios, and Google’s name is being thrown around as a suitor for a possible Hulu acquisition.
The lack of TV studio support has been a major set back for Google TV. Such support could drastically change the shape of this platform’s future. That along with Android (which now comes with movie rentals [so does Youtube]) should be considered critical.